There are so many ways doing volunteer work can enrich your experience of the holiday season: The warm feelings of the season may inspire you to make the world a better place, and volunteer work is a great way to express your gratitude for all the good things in your life. If you have (or know and love) kids, volunteering is a great way to spend time with them while teaching them the meaning of giving. If you’re grieving a loss, or otherwise feeling low, focusing on other people is a proven way to feel better. And if you’ve been affected by this difficult economy, giving of your time proves that you still have the power to make a difference, while helping others who may be struggling even more than you are. Whether you have time for a large project, a one-time event, or a few hours online, there are so many ways to bring more joy to your world. Here are just a few:
Ask Where You’re Already Connected
Start with what you know. If you are part of a church, synagogue, or temple community, chances are that they have charitable projects you can join in on. If you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, uncle or family friend of a child’s, find out whether your child’s school, or Scout troop or other after-school group has a project you can help with. If you or your colleagues are part of a professional or service organization like Rotary, Toastmasters, LIONS, Elks, Optimists or Kiwanis, ask if you can join in on their holiday projects. If you found your beloved pet at an animal shelter, ask the shelter how you can help.
Help a Large Organization You Admire
Many nationwide and international groups have offices in most major cities. Choose one you admire, and ask how you can help them make a difference in your community. Here are just a few large organizations with many volunteer opportunities now and throughout the year: The United Way, The Red Cross, Big Brothers Big Sisters, The Salvation Army, and Boys & Girls Clubs.
Search for Causes You Care About
VolunteerMatch is a wonderful tool for finding volunteer opportunities of all kinds. Search their extensive, easy-to-use database for projects you can help with in your area, or for online opportunities. (Yes, you can volunteer over the Internet, without leaving your home!) You can also search for projects that are great for kids, teens, seniors or groups, or by areas of interest such as animals, human rights, arts & culture, education & literacy, women, immigrants & refugees, employment, environment, or health & medicine.
There are so many ways to connect with and help others this holiday season. Whether you need to share your joy or you need support, yourself, remember that you are not alone, and you do have the power to make a difference in your world. Happy holidays!